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High-Intensity Interval Training vs Steady-State Cardio- HealthifyMe


High-Intensity Interval Training vs Steady-State Cardio- HealthifyMe


There is a growing interest among the exercise and fitness community in enhancing the intensity of adjustments resulting from physical training. Cardiovascular exercises should be part of your workout routine, whether you want to lose weight or build muscle. Cardio is where you burn the most calories at once while also strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles.

Any activity that raises heart rate is considered cardio. Two popular forms are steady-state or traditional cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). If your goal is weight loss, both cardio forms are helpful. By burning calories, steady-state cardio aids in weight loss. However, when it comes to HIIT, there are several factors at work. 

The big question is, which is more effective? This article compares the two types of cardio and how they affect weight loss and overall health.

HIIT Vs. Steady-State Cardio

Cardiovascular exercises promote a healthy body, lower disease risks, reduce stress, and have many other benefits. Both high-intensity interval training and steady-state cardio are effective; however, each affects the heart differently.

Steady-state cardio is aerobic, and HIIT is anaerobic. It signifies that steady-state cardio requires oxygen in the muscles to function, putting less strain on the body and, as a result, not burning many calories. HIIT, however, requires more oxygen than the body can deliver. Since the oxygen demand exceeds oxygen supply, the body releases energy (stored glucose in the body) without oxygen. Therefore, this makes one feel tired more quickly because anaerobic exercise releases a large amount of lactic acid (a metabolic byproduct).

It includes a burst of intense exercise that burns more calories than steady-state cardio. Because of the high workout intensity, HIIT is highly effective at burning calories in a shorter period. Furthermore, bodies burn calories even after HIIT training, known as the “after-burn effect.” However, traditional cardio or steady state cardio, such as running, swimming, dancing, playing tennis, etc., increases heart rate and overall metabolism, causing significant calorie burn.

The main distinction between these two is the intensity and duration. High-intensity interval training uses 80-90% of the maximum heart rate for a shorter period. In steady-state cardio, only 50-60% of one’s maximum heart rate gets used for about 45 minutes. Furthermore, the type of muscles each of them use is different. The high-intensity interval training cardio is more focused on fast-twitch muscles. These are the muscles that get used for short bursts of intense exercise. On the other hand, steady-state cardio relies on slow-twitch muscles, which get used for endurance exercises. Slow-twitch muscles are much leaner than fast-twitch muscles. Hence, sprinters appear much more muscular than long-distance runners.

The HealthifyMe Note

High-intensity interval training cardio is just as effective as steady-state cardio but takes far less time. In addition, the same amount of calories gets burned in half the time using HIIT exercises. Finally, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance, HIIT is even better because it causes positive hormonal changes.

The Benefits and Differences Between Steady State Cardio and HIIT 

There are several differences between high-intensity interval training and steady-state cardio. To begin with, HIIT has a better reputation for producing quick results; however, it is a challenging regimen to stick to for people just starting with an exercise routine. In addition, HIIT is a complex workout and thus requires a trainer or guide, whereas steady-state cardio is beginner-friendly. 


Steady-state exercises release feel-good endorphins and are pleasurable without causing discomfort. Steady-state training is a suitable alternative if one doesn’t have the stamina, condition, speed, or age to do high-intensity workouts. Weight loss isn’t the only advantage of steady-state cardio. It’s excellent for enhancing cardiovascular endurance and improving aerobic fitness.

HIIT has gained popularity because it burns a significant amount of calories in a short period. In a study, the calories burned during 30 minutes of HIIT were 25–30% more than other forms of exercise. It also spikes the metabolic rate for hours after exercise. 

Studies indicate HIIT raises the metabolism after exercise even more than running or weight training. Moreover, high-intensity interval training can cause the body’s metabolism to shift toward burning fat rather than glucose for energy. Since most high-intensity interval training workouts include various motions, it targets different muscle groups in the same workout. For example, a HIIT session could consist of squats and push-ups targeting different muscles. 

According to a review published in 2020, high-intensity interval training can benefit people with depression. It may also benefit people with other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Moreover, steady state cardio and high-intensity interval training help reduce blood pressure and manage blood sugar levels. Furthermore, both are great for the heart and improve lung function. It also helps in reducing the risk of metabolic diseases. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Developing a steady-state cardio regimen is simple. A 45-minute steady cardio workout on the treadmill, cycle, stair climber, or elliptical is a terrific way to add cardio to any workout routine. If one likes to exercise outside, jogging, riding, walking, and hiking are all excellent ways to incorporate a steady-state cardio program into the regular workout. 

To start high-intensity interval training, pick an activity (running, jumping rope, etc.). Then, depending on the duration of the intensive training and resting time, you can play with various exercises. For example, for 30 seconds, cycle as hard and quickly as you can on a stationary bike. Then pedal for 2–4 minutes at a modest, comfortable pace. Then, for 15–30 minutes, repeat this procedure. 

Workout Exercises 

HIIT workouts


Skipping ropes: 

A skipping rope is a terrific method to get in a cardio workout. All you need is a rope to get started. This exercise improves your shoulders and calves.


This core-strengthening routine will require an exercise mat. Multiple muscles, including your stomach, back, hips, arms, and shoulders, are used to maintain the spine during planks. First, hold the entire body weight up [for 10 to 20 seconds, gradually increasing to 60 seconds] while lying face down on your elbows or hands. Do 2-3 repetitions with a 15-20 second break between each set. 


Push-ups are an excellent technique to develop your arms. Put your body on the floor in a plank position, then raise yourself using your chest. Do 8-10 push-ups in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2-3 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period after each set.

Air squats: 

To perform this exercise, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, sit toward the floor, and then stand back up. Add weight to hold and breathe in on the way down, and exhale on the way back up. Do 8-10 squats in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2-3 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period after each set.

Jumping jack: 

Begin jumping with your feet, separate them, and move your arms. Increasing the speed will increase your heart rate. Do 10-15 jumping jacks in each set. Try doing a minimum of 3 sets with a 30 seconds recovery period.

Walkout to push-up: 

Start with a push-up and then bend over to reach your toes. Then walk out on your hands into a plank stance. Before walking up to a standing posture, hold it for 2 seconds. Do 5-7 walkouts to push-ups in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period.

Alternating step-back lunges: 

This exercise works on the legs. Step back with one leg, bend both knees, isolate the front leg, and step up together with the other leg. Do 6-8 alternating step-back lunges in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period.

Tricep dips: 

This workout will require the use of a chair. Walk your hands to the chair’s edge and sit tall; bend your elbows and lower yourself until your upper arm is parallel to the ground, then push yourself back up. Do 10-15 tricep dips in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2-3 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period.

Mountain climbers: 

Start with a plank and take one knee to the chest from a plank position, alternating legs. Do it as quickly as possible. Do 15-30 mountain climbers on each leg in each set. Try doing a minimum of 2-3 sets with a 30-40 seconds recovery period.



Running is a versatile exercise that may be done indoors or outdoors, on or off a treadmill. Depending on the intensity level, interspersing sprint times with jogging, strolling, or rest intervals can be converted into High-Intensity Interval Training workouts. For example, you can warm up with a five-minute run at a reasonable pace before launching into a 60-second sprint at your top speed, then stop and rest for 1-2 minutes before repeating. It is important to remember that HIIT is about the intensity, not the duration.

Circuit Training

The following workout consists of two circuits; one can perform a high-intensity interval training exercise. Perform each activity for 20 seconds before resting for 10 seconds. Before going on to the following workouts, repeat the exercises from the beginning.

You must do 2 sets of each exercise. Every set can be about 6-8 minutes.

Circuit 1:

  • Jog in place 
  • High knees 
  • Speed rope
  • Plie pops 
  • Alt knee thrusts side.      
  • Alt snap kicks 
  • Behind the back jack
  • Crossover jacks
  • Burpees 

Circuit 2:

  • Fast feet 
  • Alternate punches
  • Speed rope
  • Modified mountain climbers  
  • Rockstar jumps 
  • Uppercut punches
  • Long jump runs around. 
  • Surfer get-ups
  • Modified star jumps 

After every HIIT workout, it is critical to relax to avoid muscle injury. The best way to cool down is by doing light stretches, breathing exercises, or a short yoga session. The resting time must be at least 5 minutes.

Steady-State Cardio Workouts

Steady-state or low-intensity cardio is remarkable because you can do it in various ways. Jogging and cycling, for example, are two common training activities. However, moderate exertion is suitable for individuals new to steady-state cardio. 

Listed below are some other forms of cardio-

  • Walk quickly on an inclined surface; your pace may reduce as you ascend. Maintain a steady pace while jogging.
  • Take Zumba sessions or join dance classes. 
  • Bike at a comfortable pace on predominantly flat terrain or a stationary bike.
  • Try the elliptical to work both your upper and lower body at once. Both forward and backward movement is possible.
  • Sit down and use a rowing machine. 
  • Brisk walks for 30-45 minutes.
  • Try stair steppers for 30 minutes. 

The HealthifyMe Note:

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more calories than low-intensity cardio. However, it also burns calories after training. Even though HIIT burns more calories in the short term, the HealthifyMe team recommends you consult with fitness coaches to determine suitable exercises.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio are very effective forms of exercise. Both can help people burn more calories and improve their cardiovascular health. Also, steady-state cardio exercises are enjoyable and beginner friendly. In contrast, HIIT requires the guidance of a qualified personal trainer.

Steady-state cardio is appropriate for people of all fitness levels. In addition, it is especially beneficial while preparing for an endurance event. It is helpful for aged people. People who have joint-related issues must stick to steady-state cardio. Individuals who strive for weight loss or other cardiovascular goals must be consistent. The most significant factor in any form of training is consistency. It is also essential that we make our exercise enjoyable to commit to it for the long term.

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